Grant for Grantown Society
Plans for a community resource hub on the High Street in Grantown on Spey have received a green light having been awarded support from the Scottish Land Fund. The announcement comes during an extended Community Land Week (13 – 29 October), which community land owners across the country are marking with events and celebrations. We caught up with Bill Sadler of The Grantown Society to discover more …
The Scottish Land Fund reopened to applications in April 2016. The programme is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by the National Lottery Community Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
A total of 10 projects have received a share of more than £1.8m in the latest round of awards – and £118,663 is earmarked for The Grantown Society to allow them to purchase the former SSE Hydro building in the town centre and turn it into a “multi-use resource hub and visitors’ centre“.
Bill Sadler, Chairman, The Grantown Society, explains: “Grantown’s No 2 High Street – latterly the SSE Hydro Shop – has lain empty for over seven years. At one time it was a thriving grocer’s shop, situated on what became known as “Rimmington’s Corner”. Then, it was a favourite meeting place for locals. Now, with thanks to the Scottish Land Fund, The Grantown Society is bringing it back to life as a warm and welcoming Community Resource Hub.”
Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary, Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands, says: “Many people and community organisations know exactly what their local areas need but may lack the funding to make their visions a reality. This is why the Scottish Land Fund is so important. It allows community groups to realise their goals and unlock the full power of community actions. It is a prime example of our plans to ensure that Scotland’s land is used in a way that benefits everyone.” She adds: “I want to congratulate the latest recipients. I know that their projects will prove hugely beneficial to their respective communities. I also want to encourage any other organisations who may be eligible to apply to the Scottish Land Fund.”
There is work to do on the Grantown property – and that ball starts rolling now. Bill Sadler says that – once completed – No. 2 High Street will include “rentable ‘pop-up’ retail space, community information, a much-needed ATM and gigabit Wi-Fi with available desk space.”
The pop-up space is designed to help start-ups – encouraging folk living locally to try a small scale retail operation that, if successful, might spread its wings to occupy more permanent space in the town centre. The Society aims to provide desks for those needing a drop-in work space whilst in town – either for those living locally of business reps visiting or passing through. It will share community information and – working with StrathspeyNow – will become a ‘digital hub’ where the internal space is digitally-enabled with broadband for those using any of the internal spaces as well as plans to provide free Wi-Fi for those in close proximity outside … especially useful for overseas visitors who may not be on all-inclusive data packages on their smartphones.
Simon Baldwin of StrathspeyNow says: “We have been supportive of the Society’s plans from Day 1. Community spaces are vital – but they are simply a ‘space’ unless they are enabled with digital support. Through our community-benefit, we will be able to connect the property to make it a more viable proposition for those using the pop-up and desk space … and to provide free public-realm Wi-Fi for those outside the building when visiting the town.” He adds: “We will be visiting soon to explore precisely what is needed and will update all via our channels. We would like to thank our customers – those homes and businesses signing up to StrathspeyNow’s broadband network – as it is their custom that allows us to deliver such community benefit.”:
Cara Gillespie, Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair said: “The groups receiving funding today have all clearly identified opportunities to help their locality to thrive. By establishing new or securing existing shops, work spaces, social hubs and leisure facilities they are helping their communities become more cohesive and sustainable places to live.” And Douglas Cowan, Director of Communities and Place at HIE, said: “These successful projects are all great examples of people taking control of local resources for the long-term benefit of their communities. All these projects announced today will help to deliver local community priorities. Ownership will give them greater control over important assets that will reap rewards for people now and for generations to come. We wish all the successful community organisations the very best in their new ventures.”
Thanks for reading.